Gearing up for government Tenders

Online since 15.09.2015 • Filed under Industry news • From Issue 2 - September 2015 - February 2016 page(s) 19-20
Gearing up for government Tenders

According to the National Treasury, in 2013/2014 the South African public sector spent R500-billion on goods, services and construction works. To provide these services you need to be familiar with the government’s procurement processes. These are legislated and currently going through a number of changes.

If you’ve never responded to a government tender before, there’s a high chance you’ll be intimidated by your first one. But don’t let them knock you down, rather be prepared.

Stay in the running

Compliance is a major factor in having your proposal considered. Most government bids will first go through their procurement department for a number of tick-box checks. Was it delivered on time? If the RFP’s deadline is September 2, 2015, at 10:00, it has to be there before this time or it is thrown out. Then the proposals are checked for general compliance. Were the mandatory questions answered? Are all the forms filled in? Are the correct certificates attached, and are they up to date? Did the bidder attend the compulsory briefing session? So, to prepare yourself, make sure you have an up-to-date SARS tax clearance certificate, B-BBEE certification, and current company registration documents for the correct bidding legal entity. If you work in a highly regulated industry, such as financial services, ensure that all your required documentation is in one place and that you have enough original and certified copies.

Beyond compliance to the evaluators

Once your document has passed the compliance test it reaches the evaluators. This is the point at which you want to make a good impression. We’ve asked seasoned evaluators what they want to see. They immediately want to see that the bidders have made the time and effort to win this work. The document is well-prepared and clearly packaged, with responsive answers to the questions. It must also be clear that the bidder has the capacity to do the work and has priced the work correctly. The evaluators separate the functionality of the offering and the pricing. So, first they assess if you can do the job – eliminating some bidders along the way – and next they look at your pricing and B-BBEE status. If you’ve made this shortlist you could be called in to do a presentation to the key decision makers. Preparing for this stage includes knowing how you are going to approach each bid, asking yourself: Can I do this work? Do I want this work? What will put me at the front of the race? Start preparing documents that show off your capabilities and describe your solutions.

Going digital

The government is well on its way to procuring goods and services centrally through an e-portal. This is going to take away filling in numerous forms by hand, submitting the same document, such as a tax clearance certificate, for every new tender and needing to buy a number of newspapers to look for advertised RFPs. A central supplier database is being created where you register your company and load your necessary certificates. To prepare yourself, have a look at it:

Get in the know

The main pieces of legislation governing state procurement are the Public Finance Management Act 1 of 1999, and the Public Finance Management Amendment Act (Act No. 29 of 1999) – otherwise known as the PFMA – and the Preferential Procurement Policy Framework Act (PPPFA). However, there is other relevant legislation, such as the Local Government: Municipal Finance Management Act No. 56 of 2003 and the B-BBEE Amendment Act (2013). These are complemented by National Treasury Regulations on specific issues.

Reading through all these acts can be tedious, so look for summaries and shorter reports. Look out for case law as these often clarify the law. An example from a few years ago clarified that government entities must first assess proposals for functionality. Then, for all who pass this test, they take the one with the best price and B-BBEE points according to the correct formula. There are also numerous training courses and seminars on these. If you feel you need one, look for a session that will answer your questions.

One of the latest developments is open tendering. This is when the bid process is open to public observation and the outcomes throughout the evaluation are publicised. The Gauteng government has started doing this for bids worth over R50-million. This will mean more of your offer – and key pricing items – will be public knowledge. Both you and your competitors will know more about each other, which can be very useful in the next bid.

Be patient, very patient

There’s a huge adrenalin rush after submitting a proposal – especially if you were very close to the deadline.

Unfortunately experience has shown that there is a long time to wait for a result. It can be well over a year, which will play havoc with your pricing and predicting your sales pipeline.

Geared up for government

Winning government work is not an overnight success, but it’s entirely possible. And rewarding. Take the time to familiarise yourself with what government wants from its suppliers, follow the rules and approach each bid strategically.


Request for what?

RFP – Request for proposal. Here you need to give your full solution, including pricing.

RFI – Request for information. This often excludes pricing and is issued when government is looking to find out

more information on the available solutions and providers.

RFQ – Request for quote. The focus here is on pricing, but you might want to include a summary of your solution,

especially if you are not the incumbent.

RFX – Request for X. This can encompass an RFP, RFI or RFQ.

Tender – Similar to an RFP. The government is putting out a section of work to tender in that they want a number of suppliers to respond to get the best product or service for the best price.

Bid or proposal – This is your response to the government’s request.

Incumbent – You already have the business. Unfortunately the only way to keep it is to respond to the latest RFP.

Your advantage is that you know what this government department/entity wants and you can show the value that you have created. Your disadvantage is that you may have become complacent and will have to use your knowledge to fight off hungry new competitors.


• Prepare before the RFP lands. Get to know your government clients. This way you may find out when they will issue the RFP and what they really want.

• Read the RFP – slowly and carefully. Highlight the compulsory items, the deadline to submit, and ask yourself if you really want to spend the time and effort to respond well.

• It will always take you longer than you think! Even though the e-tender site is geared for greater efficiency, allow time to get it right. Downloads may be slow for no reason at all, you could lose connection in the middle of

submitting your bid and you just need to get used to the system.

This article was submitted by the Association of Proposal Management Professionals South Africa (APMP SA). APMP SA is the worldwide authority for professionals dedicated to the process of winning business through proposals, bids, tenders and presentations. For more information, visit

Issue 2 - September 2015 - February 2016

Issue 2 - September 2015 - February 2016

This article was featured on page 19-20 of SABI Magazine Issue 2 - September 2015 - February 2016 .

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